Lands of the Mediterranean (Hellas Supplement)
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The Hellas Setting is centered around the Mediterranean Sea, encompassing approximately the extent of the Roman Empire at 250 C.E. A good map of the area is available here. Another is available here. No knowledge of the Ancient World is necessary; the world is parallel to Earth's ancient Mediterranean, but is also different in important ways. The DM always is right, even over the objections of a history major! Creativity is meant to be the center of this setting, not strict adherence to historical truth.
Athens: Land of Philosophy
Athens was a city-state in which democracy first appeared. Every citizen was expected to participate in a direct democracy. Citizenship, however, was restricted to a small group of landed men; slaves, women, poor men, and immigrants were not given the rights of the citizen. Athens was famous for its democratic state, its navy, its drama, and its silver mines; but its greatest legacy was its philosophy. Initially, the philosophers consisted of teachers from Ionia called Sophists. These relativistic intellectuals charged outrageous sums of money in order to teach young men. Their dogma taught that there were no absolute truths and that the masses of the people oould be manipulated by specious reasoning. Opposing this manpulation was Socrates, the first moral philosopher. He taught that there is such a thing as objective moral goodness and that the best life is the examined one. His belief in a single God, moral universals, and a firm commitment to the rule of law have provided all subsequent moral philosophers with a magnificient base.
Sparta: Power and Honor
Sparta was a city-state in which the military was everything. From birth till death, every Spartan male was expected to serve in or support the military. If a newborn child was seen to be unfit, he or she would be left on a hill to die. Spartan boys were taken at age seven to be trained until they were about 20. Their training was brutal. They were kept hungry all of the time and encouraged to steal, but if they were caught, they would be beaten severely. The ultimate test of manhood was to be able to sneak out of camp at night and kill a Spartan slave, called a helot. The helots were victims of Spartan conquest, and were reduced to the most miserable form of slavery in all of Greece. Their lives meant nothing. Unlike other cities, Sparta had no class of merchants or scribes, but they did have the Krypteia, a group of secret adolescent police whose job it was to kill Helots and prevent rebellion. Spartan women were not given war training; it was their job to produce as many healthy sons as possible. Even so, Spartan women had the right to own property, and recieved some physical training (in order to be healthy and thus bear healthy sons.) Of course, Spartan women could not do anything which would interfere with their ability to produce as many children as possible, so any occupation or intellectual activity which could hinder childbirth was totally forbidden. It was said that the Spartan men would come home either holding their shield in victory, or on it, dead.
The Ionic Coast
Ionia is the birthplace of science and philosophy. It all started in the city of Miletos, where a man named Thales decided to search for a non-mythic explanation of the universe.
God-Kings and Mysticism
Ancient Persia was a land of many peoples. The people of Persis were at the core of the empire, and they conquered many other lands in order to build their regime. Some of these people included the Medes, the Babylonians, the Syrians, and the Lydians. they even conquered the Ionian Greeks at one time. At its peak, ancient Persia was second in geographical size only to the Alexandrian and Roman empires. Persia's ancient state religion was known as Zoroastrianism, a dualist religion in which there is a conflict between the absolute good of Ahura Mazda and the absolute evil of Angra Mainyu. There was no middle ground in Zoroastrianism at all.
Italy: The Pax Romana
The Roman empire was the largest in the entire ancient world in every way possible. It had the largest population, land area, wealth, and military. At its peak, its power was unquestionable; it controlled an area from Britannia to Mesopotamia, from Greece to Gaul, from Hispania to Egypt, and from Italia to Anatolia. Rome hadn't always been an empire; it used to be a Republic with a senate and the rule of law. Roman citizens were given rights not seen anywhere else save Athens, and the Romans swore that they would never be ruled by a king. The Republic, however, was quite unstable. Due to the demands of the generals, the rich, and the general attitudes of the people, Rome embarked on a series of military campaigns with the goals of conquest, expansion, and obtaining spoils of war. The greatest spoils of war were slaves, and Rome unjustly took millions of them. These slaves were placed on farms known as Latifundia, and their cost-free labor outcompeted the free farmers of ancient Rome. This created much rural poverty and many farmers lost their homes. This was a very bad thing for the Roman Republic because only landed men could serve in the military; the idea was that landed men would be loyal to the government which protected their property rights. When there were too few landed men available to fight off a germanic invasion, the General Marius instiuted a series of reforms which allowed landless men to join or else be conscripted into the military. The strategy worked well; soon the Roman army was swollen with so many men, the generals hardly knew what to do with all of them. The way to insure the loyalty of the army was to promise to settle them on the land they conquered; that way, they would have a means of retirement after the 20 years of service they had to put in if they joined the army. This policy of giving land to the military necessitated more and more conquests in order to give the retired soldiers more and more land. Eventually, the military became more loyal to the generals than to the senate, and an ambitious general could use his army to take over Rome if he so wanted. That general was Gaius Julius Caesar, who crossed the Rubicon river and advanced into the city of Rome, where he declared himself dictator perpertus, dictator for life. Caesar was then killed by the senate. In th aftermath of his death, there was a power struggle between Octavian and Mark Antony for absolute control of the Roman state. In the end, Octavian won and he became the first true Roman emperor. The golden age of peace, growth, prosperity he reigned over was called the Pax Romana, the Roman peace.
Germania was the name for an unorganized land in which a series of violent people lived, The Germans were made up of many tribes; some of them were the Franks, the Lombards, the Saxons, the Vandals, the Teutons, and the Cimbri. Contrary to popular belief, they did not conquer the dying Roman empire; they simply moved in on the land in which the Romans once dwelt once the empire had collapsed from within. If anything, the Romans were the ones who had conquered many of the Germans; there were even Roman provinces of Germania Inferior and Germania Superior, as well as Roman colonies in Germania such as Colonia Agrippa (Cologne) or Vindobona (Vienna.)
The Scythian Steppes